S. Korea's largest int'l film festival opens in Busan

SEOUL, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), one of Asia's largest film events hosted by South Korea, opened on Thursday in the southern port city, featuring 308 films from 70 countries worldwide.

This year's festival, set to run until Friday next week, is meaningful as it's the first event to be held at Busan Cinema Center, according to its organizers.

The center was completed late last month to become the festival's permanent venue with three cinemas and a 4,000-seat outdoor theater.

The number of films that will be screened at the 16th BIFF is similar to past years, but the number of world premiers, at 89 for this year, will be fewer.
 An opening ceremony was held at the outdoor theater of the cinema center with about 5,000 filmmakers, entertainers and movie fans from both at home and abroad attending.

   "Always," a melodrama directed by South Korea's Cannes Jury Prize winner Song Il-gon about a retired boxer who falls in love with a woman slowly going blind, was the opener of the festival.

Named after the city of Busan, BIFF was established in 1996 and has since grown into one of the most influential film festivals in Asia, focused on discovering new films and first-time directors from across the region.

The festival will close with Japanese director Masato Harada's "Chronicle of My Mother." Based on the work of Japanese writer Yasushi Inoue, the film is about a mother's unconditional love for her son, according to the organizers.

The BIFF has 11 sections, including the "Gala Presentation," "A Window on Asian Cinema" and "New Currents."

The Gala Presentation section will present seven films by leading directors, including Luc Besson's "The Lady," Johnnie To's "Life Without Principle," Peter Chan's "Dragon" and Bong Joon-ho's "The Host 3D."

The "Window" section that offers a comprehensive look at contemporary films from Asia presents 49 films from 16 countries, including pictures from the next generation of Asian talent, such as Filipino helmer Adolfo Alix Jr.'s "Fable of the Fish," Chinese director Wang Chao's "Celestial Kingdom" and Japanese director Ishii Yuya's "Mitsuko Delivers."

   In the New Currents category, 25 works by young and up-and-coming Asian filmmakers from 15 countries will be presented.

   The Korean Cinema Retrospective section will present eight of the better-known films by the world-acclaimed Korean director Kim Ki-duk.

   The World Cinema section, meanwhile, features 73 films of well-known veteran filmmakers in 40 countries, including Jodie Foster's "The Beaver," Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," Gus Van Sant's "Restless" and Evan Glodell's "Bellflower" from the U.S.

   The section also includes the latest pictures from leading European directors, such as Chantal Akerman, Aleksandr Sokurov, Lars von Trier, Mathieu Kassovitz, Nanni Moretti and Lynne Ramsay.

   In the Retrospectives and Special Programs, seven films by Chinese filmmaker Yonfan, who is also the jury head of the New Currents section, will be showcased.

   The festival will hold a special section on contemporary Australian cinema as this year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and Australia.

   A strong celebrity contingent is expected, with French director Luc Besson, Hong Kong's director Tsui Hark, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, Japanese director Iwai Shunji, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul and French actress Isabelle Huppert among them.

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